Reports by Lindsay Higgins
Junior Compulsory Dances
Luckily for all involved, the Junior compulsory dances involved far less odd judging than did the Novice event. It was clear from the beginning which were the top three teams, which were the fourth- and fifth-place teams, and which were the sixth- through eighth-place teams, although within those brackets the exact placements would depend on who skated their best when it counted, and of course what the judges thought.
The first dance was the Starlight, and it’s a good thing the girls’ dresses were all different colors because it’s hard to keep teams straight when seven of the eight guys are wearing tuxes!
Placing first in the Starlight were Jane Summersett of the New England FSC and Elliott Pennington of the SC of Boston. (Elliott, incidentally, was the one male in the group not wearing a tux). Last year’s National silver medallists in Novice, they had nice deep lobes and maintained good flow through the change of hold in the corner. They won the Starlight on a three-two split with Meghan McCullough and Joel Dear.
McCullough and Dear, fifth at least year’s nationals in Junior, also skated a beautiful Starlight. This team has wonderful waltz expression, with soft knees and a nice lilt throughout. The relocation to Boston seems to be working for them, as they’ve improved on these qualities since last year.
A new team, Katie Copely of the SC of New York and Patrick Connelly of the University of Delaware, placed third in this dance. (She was twelfth at Nationals last year with Duke Wensel). Their transitions were neat and precise, and the three-turns across the end were quick and effortless. They took four third-place ordinals for this dance, with the remaining judge placing them fourth below Samantha Cepican and Phillip Lichtor.
Like fellow SC of Boston skaters McCullough and Dear, Cepican and Lichtor have qualities such as soft knees and good flow. The waltz expression comes naturally to them as well.
The second dance for the Juniors was the Cha Cha Congelado. All of the teams appeared weaker on this dance to some degree, which is probably to be expected as most skaters find it a more difficult dance than the Starlight. McCullough and Dear had deeper lobes than most teams, and while they seem better suited to the waltzes with regards to their expression, they do manage to present the more “fun” dances nicely as well. This led four judges to place them first, with the holdout going for Summersett and Pennington.
Summersett and Pennington have become a very versatile team, able to convey the expression of very different dances equally well. Their basic skating and partnering skills are excellent, and their Congelado looked strong.
Cepican and Lichtor switched places with Copely and Connelly, placing third in this dance. Their depth and speed were better in this dance than in the Starlight, and while their waltz expression is very nice, their expression and presentation in the Congelado were better.
Copely and Connelly also convey the expression of the Congelado well. While some teams, like McCullough and Dear, are naturally suited the waltzes, this team is stronger expression-wise on the more upbeat dances. Their knee action on the Congelado was nice and smooth even though it’s a somewhat more jarring dance.
Because of the number of teams that switched places in the two compulsories, there were ties for first, third, and sixth place going into the original dance!